Showing posts with label angaleena presley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label angaleena presley. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

video review: 'interstate gospel' by pistol annies

Yeah, I know I'm a bit late posting this one, but it really is a pretty great album, definitely take the time to hear it.

And on a slightly different note...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

album review: 'interstate gospel' by pistol annies

It's hard not to consider albums by the Pistol Annies as minor miracles.

And if that sounds condescending or disparaging to the talents of the three women in this group, it absolutely isn't intended that way - more to highlight that supergroup projects of any stripe rarely work or balance themselves out well, much less rise to the sum of their parts and at points even exceed them. Keep in mind the alchemy of a project like this: Miranda Lambert might have been a critically beloved hitmaker coming out of the 2000s, but Ashley Monroe was far from proven on her own as label nonsense had stymied an otherwise fantastic debut project. And Angaleena Presley hadn't yet kicked off her own solo career that would win critical acclaim from indie country fans, but from few others. 

And yet the Pistol Annies found a way to make it click with two terrific albums in the early 2010s, mostly because of the sort of understood balance and chemistry that led to a unification of theme but a distinct voices. And what I've always found amusing is the subversion of expectations: from opening singles like 'Hell On Heels', you might expect the trio to use their collaboration as a wish-fulfillment distillation of their most recognizable archetype, but they were smart enough to lend impressive amounts of nuance and detail to their storytelling to not only accentuate everyone's unique voice, but also a thematic core with real weight to not just show who they were, but what got them there. And then after knocking it out of the park in 2011, they'd do it again in 2013 with Annie Up, which added a bit more meat to their stories even if the quality wasn't quite as consistent, even as the insurgent bro country scene would bulldoze over everything in the rest of that year.

Fast forward to now, five years later... and it's hard to ignore how much has changed. All three women have put out multiple solo albums to the point where it's hard not to assume that a reunion was never in the cards. And there's been upheaval too: while Ashley Monroe's material has been more reserved and light with the wry hidden edge, Miranda Lambert has chronicled her infidelity and the collapse of her marriage in the sort of weighty double album that casts a long shadow, while Angaleena Presley made the sort of blistering and pitch-black solo indie country albums which won a ton of acclaim and where a Yelawolf collaboration actually made sense! If anything, each artist has drilled into their solo voices and sounds so deeply that it makes you wonder that if bringing things back together will dampen this power or strike the same balance. But you can bet I was curious to see if this reunion could make lightning strike a third time, so what did we get with Interstate Gospel?

Monday, June 12, 2017

video review: 'wrangled' by angaleena presley

About damn time I got to this one... and not the only review dropping tonight, so stay tuned!

album review: 'wrangled' by angaleena presley

So as I've said a number of times recently, country is at a bit of a crossroads moment right now. Between the generally inoffensive pop country, the neotraditional and Texas tones picking up market share, the insurgent indie scene, and whatever sterile garbage Nashville is churning out to try and recapture a bro-country audience that has mostly stopped listening, the mainstream could tilt in many different directions and there hasn't been a lot of clarity where the chips will fall. But in the aftermath of bro-country's collapse, there is something that needs to be addressed: if you're looking for women on mainstream radio, you're going to be left in the cold. It's not saying that there aren't a few mainstream success stories - Kelsea Ballerini, Lauren Alaina and Maren Morris playing to the pop crowd, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert continuing to mostly chalk up hits as veterans - but especially when you look at the indie crossovers, I'm a little perplexed why we haven't seen that woman who can stand up with Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, or Sturgill Simpson. Because these indie acts definitely exist - hell, I've covered a fair few of them, along with the artists who have a mainstream sound and could easily have radio presence if given the chance.

Take, say, Angaleena Presley. A member of the Pistol Annies along with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe, with her 2014 solo debut American Middle Class she won over critics in droves. And I dearly wish that I had covered it three years ago, because of the Pistol Annies while Miranda Lambert sanded back her edge for the mainstream and Ashley Monroe played to restraint, Angaleena Presley didn't have any compunctions embracing her inner hellraiser, her production more ramshackle and grimy to match writing that didn't mince words in its cutting approach to small town Americana. Kacey Musgraves might get cute about it, and Brandy Clark and Lori McKenna might showcase complicated melancholy, but there was intelligent fury and venom from Presley that was willing to get nastier. And let's be real, despite good connections conservative country radio tends to get very skittish with this sort of content, especially considering Presley never played as broad and accessible as Lambert or Carrie Underwood in her delivery or writing. And yet fast-forward to 2017: with the indie doors broken open these days for mainstream crossover, I have to admit I was a little surprised her second album Wrangled wasn't inspiring more conversation beyond the indie critical set, especially if it was at all comparable in quality to American Middle Class. So despite being late to the punch, I dug in - what did I find?